Not Posting In Spain; Driving Me Insane

Roses - Spain - Spanien -  Abendstimmung

Image by Ela2007 via Flickr

-I am going to Spain, with my husband for ten glorious days. It appears things really do happen for a reason. We offered to take our teenagers to Spain, a place they have always wanted to go to and they declined. What? Yup, you heard me. When they politely (?) declined we were hurt and definitely confused about them not wanting to come. In the end, it worked out perfectly.

-Our son, the Senior in HS, didn’t want to be apart from this friends on their spring break and while our daughter wanted to go to Spain, she didn’t want to go without her brother. So, we stayed home while they had spring break (we are not stupid parents) and we left for Spain, just the two of us, three weeks later. Sometimes life is not only good, it’s great. I should have trusted that it would turn out this way.

-Our children have always left us to go to sleep away camp for 8 weeks each summer but we have never left them.We have talked to them, of course, and it sounds like things are going smoothly. I have no idea what the house will look like upon our return (silly me, of course we know how messy and dirty it will look like) but this vacation is worth pretty much anything.

-Today we left 3 days in Barcelona to drive to Roses, Spain. Honestly, I am not quite sure how we ended up here but I am glad we did. We are spending a few days at this little beach town.

-On the road to Roses from Barcelona we took a local highway. I noticed a woman sun tanning in a beach chair at the first exit. Soon, I saw another woman at another exit. Soon, my husband saw it too, how odd, I thought to sunbathe on the highway. A couple of exists further and the beach attire the women were wearing became skimpier and skimpier. Their poses were, shall we say, suggestive….. One woman wore a bright yellow warning sign on her lap. I read some place that they are supposed to have that garment too. Apparently the highway is notorious for having women sell their bodies at exit ramps. Is it legal or illegal? My husband googled it but we never came up with a clear-cut answer. Whether it is or not is immaterial, it happens. Hey, what do I know, I’m just a tourist!

-There is no happier place on earth for me than on any beach, especially one that has shiny blue-green Mediterranean water. There are flowers in the middle of every street, each street for the town has red roses in the divider. Sigh.

-We went out to eat at a local place where we let the waitress tell the cook what to make for us. We didn’t speak their dialect of Spanish and they spoke no English, but we smiled a lot and pointed and laughed and had a delicious meal. We ended up eating a beef stew, very tender meat in a brown sauce, a salad of lettuce and fresh, ripe red tomatoes and a white cheese platter served on a white plate, creamy and delicious. Of course, my husband sampled the local sangria (that’s a given.)

-We stayed at a hotel that we hated. It seemed like it was a geriatric nursing home and we were in the wrong place. Mind you, we are NO youngsters but we felt like teenagers at this place. The hallways were dark and it felt like we were underground. I clutched my husband’s arm each time we had to go there. It smelled musty and dank, the food was mushy and had no taste, the coffee was undrinkable. After two long nights, we left. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. It had bad vibes written all over it, bad smell, bad everything.

-Our reward: I looked up another hotel that was about twenty minutes and closer to Barcelona for the way back. IT WAS STUNNING, it was also brand new. Things got mixed up but with our reservation but the hotel/resort was welcoming and beautiful. For our “inconvenience” they upgraded us to a suite overlooking the ocean. Ten minutes later, a bottle of complimentary champagne appeared at our door. We were in love.

to be continued……

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The Color Of Spain

Y se hizo el color

Image by Zyllan via Flickr

Having been in Spain for over a week now, the color of Spain, to me, is burnt orange, terra-cotta.  I have pieces of smooth, slippery rocks that I collected from the beach. They capture the feeling in my heart, and remind me of this beautiful country and the interesting dialects and eclectic and interesting food from tapas to wiener schnitzel, pizza and kabobs, paella, different creamy white cheese served on a white plate.

We decided to first stay in the magnificent city of Barcelona for the first few days surrounded by a cacophony of French, Spanish, Italian, German, Chinese, and other languages we could not decipher. It’s fascinating to see and hear different people all the time, just walking down the busy streets you feel like you are in a United Nations convention. We went walking on the touristy streets in the big city, seeing people “statues” move and delight the crowds. Wait, is that a statue or….hey, it’s a man barely moving for minutes on end. A cup was available in front of them, for tips.

We ate tapas (tastings of many small things that you pick) ranging from something that tasted like cream cheese and jelly (perfect for me) to meatballs, fish, grilled herb cheese with tomatoes, sausages and crabmeat. We (ok, my husband) drank Sangria and wherever you go the drink is slightly different. Sometimes it had sugar in it, other times sparkling water was added to it, in a different place the sugar was not in the drink but on the rim with fruit bouncing happily in the red wine. Sangria was a staple and for me “Coke Lite.”

Just to be in another country was wonderful, breathing the air, seeing the different plants, colors, people, birds. When you are in another country you experience joy from just waking up in a new place excited to go on new adventures. After hours of walking you whisper good-night to each other across a king size bed. Traveling, to me, is a fantasy.  We spent three free nights in a wonderful hotel that included breakfast, croissants and coffee. The croissants have a very tiny sheen of sugar baked on the top, perfect in the morning. Coffee all the time, espresso, regular coffee, double espresso, cafe latte. There were different types of yogurt, cheese, olives, sausage and bread.

Children are running around with their parents pursuing them, excited screams for gelato were heard. Smiling in any language seems universal.

Happy Birthday Daddy

Wiener Schnitzel

Image via Wikipedia

November 13th is my dad’s birthday, he would have been 88. He passed away almost 9 years ago but the pain on holidays, birthdays, Father’s Day, is the same raw pain as the day he died.  It’s a pain that is hard to describe for people who have never lost a parent. Believe me, I know.

Instead of wallowing in depression this year I am going to try to remember and honor the man I loved so dearly. His blue-gray eyes, child-like qualities, generosity, pep-talks and his warmth. I miss the soft yet sturdy hugs as if a limb of my own had been amputated. I miss the familiar smell of his after-shave cologne that he sprayed with enthusiasm. My dad and I were very similar; he and I had an amazing connection and a strong emotional bond. We thought alike and we completely understood each other. The day he died, my heart was gauged with intense pain, my heart missing an essential beat.

My dad and I had so much fun together when I was younger. We traveled to  Vienna, Austria, where my grandparents lived. We ate sugary-sweet meringues that were shaped like delicate white swans and sipped hot chocolate with “schlag”  (whipped cream). We ate exploding red-berry sweet and sour tarts in Viennese cafes. My grandmother would fry up her famous wiener schnitzel,  served with plump lemon wedges every single night.

I was in first grade when my mom couldn’t come to open school day but my dad came. I think he was the only father in the class and I was so proud, so happy that he was there. I remember sharing my milk and cookies with him and I felt so important. At a shared birthday party with a friend he surprised me by coming home from work early, sneaking into the party like a secret surprise. It was a joy so innocent and so intense that I remember the feeling to this day. I was shocked and delighted as I wrapped my arms around his tall legs like a clinging, furry animal. Back then dads’ weren’t as involved in their children’s’ lives as they are today but he always had time for me; his little one, his mouse, his baby.

We had adventures, the two of us. My mother worked a great deal, she traveled the world being a tour director and translator. One night my father and I went out to a Spanish restaurant and sipped sangria, with glistening, beaming chunks of bright oranges and green apples bobbing in the rich, red wine. We toasted people we knew with every sip we took. The more we sipped the stranger the toasts were. I remember we toasted a wall -paper hanger guy that never showed up to our house, people we barely knew and random people from the past.

We went to the bagel store together, early on a Sunday morning and the store was closed. However, the fresh, warm, doughy bagels had already been delivered to the store in huge paper sacks. My dad happily took some and we left, an experience a teenager doesn’t forget! We would go grocery shopping at a huge Pathmark store with my mom and he and I would find the biggest size jars of silly things: three-pound troughs of peanut butter and dill pickles, tubs of mandarin oranges and hide them in the cart as a joke. My mother would roll her eyes and shake her head, clearly not amused, but my dad and I would laugh hysterically. Often, there would be open boxes of cookies or candy and we would help ourselves to free samples. Back then, we weren’t worried about poison or germs or anthrax.

My father spent his entire life working for TWA,  getting free airline tickets for our family.  My father, mother, older sister and I flew to: France, Greece, Portugal, Israel, Switzerland and Germany. First class seats were a mere eight dollars extra but that was a lot of money years ago and a very special treat.

This Saturday on my dad’s birthday my husband and I are going to visit my mom and take her out for lunch, we don’t want her to be alone. I know that spending the day with my mom would make my dad very happy.  He loved my mom more than anyone else in the world. Later, that night, my kids and I will remember him with his own, signature and messy concoction, “Papa’s game”: a “mixture” containing  little bits of everything that is leftover on our plates and in our glasses, swirled together with a spoon and a smile. This year, I will toast to his memory.